SINGAPORE - E-payment stalwart Nets is launching its mobile wallet app on Friday (Oct 20) - paving the way for millions of ATM card users here to make Nets payments with just their phones.
Observers say the move by the e-payment provider is a step towards the setting up of the unified cashless payment system Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of at the National Day Rally.
His remarks on Aug 20 fired the starting gun for a race in which e-payment firms battle to be the one to unite fragmented platforms and reach all strata of society, including hawkers and heartland shops, where cash is king.
Nets chief executive Jeffrey Goh on Thursday made no bones about the company's ambitions for its app: "We call NetsPay 'the payment app that can' because it effectively solves Singapore's cashless conundrum - having one wallet that is accepted everywhere."
Ms Zhi Ying Ng, an analyst at research firm Forrester, agreed that the Nets app has the potential to move the needle on mobile payments: "By letting customers access all their cards in one place, Nets has made mobile payment simpler and more convenient."
The app lets users digitise their ATM cards, so payments can be debited directly from their bank accounts by tapping their mobile phones on a contactless payment reader or by scanning a QR code.
At launch, it will work for users of the seven million ATM cards issued by DBS Bank and POSB. Nets said the ATM cards of five other banks - OCBC Bank, United Overseas Bank, HSBC, Maybank and Standard Chartered Bank - will be accepted in the coming weeks.
Some e-payment users, however, are already bemoaning the lack of credit card support. NetsPay currently works only through direct debit and it is not clear if or when credit cards will work with it.
NetsPay is currently available for download on both Apple iOS and Android devices.
About one-third of Nets' 100,000 acceptance points islandwide - including those at Cold Storage and FairPrice supermarkets - has been upgraded with contactless functions and QR code features to accept NetsPay. Android phone users can scan a QR code or tap their phones on contactless payment readers to make payments. iPhone users can only scan a QR code.
Users will be asked to enter their banking PIN during payment if the transaction is $100 and above.
NetsPay can also be used for in-app purchases; Nets is in the process of signing up merchants.
DBS, which has installed its PayLah! QR code payment solution at some 1,700 hawkers and neighbourhood shops, told The Straits Times that Nets will replace these with the Nets QR code.
At DBS, mobile contactless payment users spend at least twice as much as people who use their physical cards at contactless payment points.
"The user-friendliness and security of these mobile contactless platforms clearly encourage higher usage," said Mr Anthony Seow, its head of cards and unsecured loans.